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Julian McDaniel

MA Student


Julian received his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Tennessee in the Spring of 2019. He is currently working toward his M.A. in the department of anthropology. From 2016-2019, Julian was working on a research project with Dr. Raja Swamy  that explores the ways in which Hurricane Harvey has impacted the lives of residents living in Houston, Texas. Specifically, this work examines the historical production of Houston’s industrial landscape, the struggle for environmental justice and the workings of power in post-disaster contexts. The unequal distribution of damage following a disaster took center focus on this research.
This focus on the unequal distribution of damage experienced by marginalized communities has influenced his next research endeavor. His thesis work examines the effects of the opioid crisis in rural geographies and explores harm reduction efforts in East Tennessee. In particular, his work points to the institutional failures that have led to an explosion of harm reduction efforts across East Tennessee and rural Appalachia. Examples of such work includes advocating for the distribution of free Narcan, free syringe exchanges, counseling, peer support, medical attention and, more broadly, the organization of mutual aid efforts designed to support PWUDs (people who use drugs.) His thesis provides a substantial critique of the neoliberal recovery industry, which relies on a punitive model of care that disciplines drug users under the guise of rehabilitation. Through ethnographic engagement with harm reductionists, care workers, medical professionals, and drug users receiving care, Julian hopes to contribute positively to the discourse on drugs, addiction and recovery.


Research interests: Critical theory, drug and alcohol studies, social inequalities, harm reduction, anarchist theory and praxis, addiction, mutual aid and clandestine responses to state terror and racialized inequalities.

Thesis Project on Harm Reduction (underway)